MVFC Power Rankings, After Week 9

Once again, not a lot of movement in the Valley Power Rankings. The top stayed the same through four spots and the bottom two seem firmly entrenched where they are. The middle had a little action, but nothing mind blowing. We enter the final month of the season and the MVFC is almost a 100% lock for three bids. Four bids is probably in the 99.5% area. A fifth bid though? Probably 50%. That will depend on teams #5 and #6 and if either can finish 3-1 or 4-0 down the stretch. Let’s take a look…

1. North Dakota State(4-0 in MVFC, 8-0 overall), previously #1. Like it or not, the Bison more or less wrapped up the Missouri Valley’s automatic playoff bid when they beat South Dakota State. Why? Half the conference season still remains. They sit atop the standings at 4-0 with three teams tied for second at 3-1. All three of those team’s only loss in conference? Yep. NDSU. It would take a massive implosion for that to happen. And if it were, it would have already happened. Next week: @ Youngstown State.

2. South Dakota State(3-1, 6-2), previously #2. The Jackrabbits gave the Bison everything they could “Muster”…and the “Colonel’s last stand” was just a smidgen too short. Unfortunately, about 71 yards too short. Still, they proved they’re a legit top team in FCS and barring multiple losses down the stretch, they’ll be in the playoffs and receive a national seed. The roadie this week should help get things back on track for the final month.  Next: @ Missouri State.

3. Illinois State(3-1, 6-2), previously #3. The Redbirds grind out another low scoring victory. Now the conference slate gets interesting. Mentioned the three way tie for second place, remember? Well, two of them pair off with each other the next three weeks in a round-robin format. The first happens in Normal this week. Two wins from any of the three will guarantee a national seed, possibly top 4. A 1-1 finish should still result in a seed also. Utmost importance from here on out. Next: vs. Northern Iowa.

4. Northern Iowa(3-1, 5-3), previously #4. The Panthers come out slow but took advantage of some costly gaffs by Missouri State in the second quarter and closed down that game early. Again, as mention directly above, national seeding implications abound the next few weeks. The one bad break for UNI, they have to travel for both. Next: @ Illinois State.

5. Southern Illinois(2-2, 4-4), previously #6. Southern Illinois seems like they’re starting to peak at the right time. And it may be a coincidence that happened with the healthy return of Swiss Army knife running back D.J. Davis. The dogs offense is running wild right now, implementing a multiple formation attack including the “Wildcat”. Hmm? It’s like Ghostbusters – “Cats and dogs living together. Mass hysteria!” A 3-1 finish here should get these guys in the playoffs. But one at a time. Next: @ Indiana State.

6. Youngstown State(1-3, 5-3), previously #8. Made mention of the Penguins early conference crash, but it was against teams 2, 4 and 5. So the schedule did play a “roll”, err, role in that. Yes, that was a cinnamon “bun”, errr, pun reference to their “pastry”, errr, patsy non-conference schedule. A minimum 3-1 finish will be needed to make the playoffs. That would leave them at 8-4 / 4-4 with a top ten win also. A sub-.500 conference record will leave them home. Mega opportunity next. Next: vs. North Dakota State.

7. South Dakota(2-2, 3-5), previously #5. Here’s where the cutoff begins. Anything less than winning out and the playoffs are an afterthought. However, winning out would mean 6-2 in MVFC and a win over the two behemoths at the top. That would be a cinch clinch. Seems like more of a fairy tale the a reality. But you’re still saying there’s a chance? Next: @ Western Illinois.

8. Indiana State(1-3, 3-5), previously #7. The Sycamores might have been the nation’s biggest disappointment this year had it not been for Eastern Washington or UC-Davis. I suppose if you really get down to it, winning out could get them in and the ending schedlue isn’t so daunting it’s impossible. So maybe it’s a bit dismissive at this point. But really, there’s no more margin for error. And it starts this coming week. Next: vs. Southern Illinois.

9. Missouri State(1-3, 1-6), previously #9. The Bears may be in the middle of the roughest schedule stretch in the entire nation right now. Recently played North Dakota State and Northern Iowa. And really, they didn’t lose as badly as one may have thought going in. Now they host a third straight top 12 opponent. Next: vs. South Dakota State.

10. Western Illinois(0-4, 0-8), previously #10. The trip to Youngstown was brutal, as the Penguins had the Leathernecks down before they barely got off the bus. Still looking for that first win and this would be a delicious time to get it. It’s Neilsen Bowl weekend. The old coach comes back to Macomb with his Coyotes. Next: vs. South Dakota.